A man suing Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Bayer over Xarelto bleeding risks pushed back against the drug companies after they asked the judge overseeing the case in Philadelphia to drop the case because his prescribing doctor testified he did not read Xarelto’s safety label.
Daniel Russell argued that the focus should not be on that doctor – Dr. Riple Hansalia – because he was simply continuing a prescription made by another physician – Dr. Ihab Girgis – the day before. Thus, Dr. Girgis should be considered the relevant prescriber under the law, Russell argued.
Furthermore, Dr. Hansalia may not have read Xarelto’s safety label, but he had reviewed information about the blood thinner from other sources, like magazine ads and the online resource UpToDate. Hansalia also testified that had he known the bleeding risks with Xarelto were increased when combined with anti-platelet therapy, he would have told Russell about that possibility.
Russell had a stent placed in 2013 to treat a blocked coronary artery. He also had an irregular heartbeat. At that time, he was prescribed two anti-platelet medications, aspirin and Plavix, to prevent blood clots. Shortly after, his heart was shocked back into rhythm, and then he was prescribed Xarelto to prevent blood clots from forming in his heart, where they could travel to the brain and cause a stroke. After a seven-day course of Xarelto, Russell was rushed to the emergency room and diagnosed with a massive gastrointestinal bleed.
He sued Janssen and Bayer for failing to warn that bleeding risks with Xarelto were amplified in patients who were also taking anti-platelet drugs. He claims the drug companies made a conscious decision not to inform doctors on Xarelto’s safety label that using the blood thinner with other anticoagulants posed significant bleeding risks to patients.
Russell’s case is the second to go to trial among about 1,700 pending in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. Another 20,000 Xarelto lawsuits are pending in a multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana.